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Lizard Brain is a shared blog about Science Fiction and Fantasy from Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.

Writing craft philosophical provocation of the day

04.10.13
by Daniel Abraham

“Inaccessibility in a work of art is either a failure of craft or a statement of contempt.”

Discuss.

23 Comments

Daniel’s Early April Roundup

04.02.13
by Daniel Abraham

Jaysus, but I appear to be everywhere right now.  Seriously.

I weigh in on Grimdark over at the once-again Hugo nominated Clarkesworld.

At A Dribble of Ink, I reflect fondly on Sean Stewart, even though he isn’t dead.

And at Apex Magazine, they’ve reprinted one of my favorite stories *and* interviewed me about it (and other things).

Also, some folks are apparently going to be seeing advance copies of Tyrant’s Law any minute now.

I think that’s about it for now.  Funny when it all hits at once, though, ennit?

3 Comments

Quick PSA

03.21.13
by Daniel Abraham

For folks looking to follow James SA Corey on Facebook, be aware that https://www.facebook.com/jamess.corey.54 *isn’t* us, we don’t know who it *is* and they’ve apparently blocked the real Jimmy Corey facebook page so they probably don’t mean well.  We’re talking to the fine folks at Facebook about it, but in the meantime, try https://www.facebook.com/james.s.corey.9

Share and enjoy!

11 Comments

Pleasure and Unease: The Balfour & Meriwether Stories

03.05.13
by Daniel Abraham

So this all started a while back.  As I recall it, I was invited into a steampunk project.  Now I’m not a particularly steampunk sort of fella in general.  I admire the aesthetic, but as with almost all versions of style, it’s a little too much effort for me to really maintain.  Class me as an admirer.  But I’d read some steampunk, and read some criticism of steampunk, and come to the part of that particular project that was interesting to me.

Balfour & Meriwether

Balfour & Meriwether

Now I don’t claim to speak for steampunk.  I don’t know exactly what it is in a larger cultural sense or as a subgenre within fantasy or science fiction.  But what it chimed off of for me was a conversation I had with my father when he was in graduate school about Who Paid the Bills at Mansfield Park?, Michael Gorra’s review of Edward Said’s Culture and Imperialism.  For me, steampunk is a statement about the balance between discomfort and pleasure.

I, like many folks my age, grew up with a deep and unreflective joy in colonialist fiction.  By that, I mean Jane Austen, Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Oscar Wilde, and on and on in that vein.  Folks for whom the ascendency of the British Empire was a given. I remember a particular Christmas when I was somewhere between 7 and 12, laying on my back, eating Tootsie Rolls, and reading a kid’s adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles.  Those kinds of formative pleasures are profound.  They shape who are and how we make sense of the world, probably to the grave.  Denying them is at best difficult, and at worst oppressive.  And yet.

The history of colonialism in reality (as falsely opposed to fiction for the purposes of this argument), is . . . well, shit.  Let’s call it ugly.  And its consequences and sequelae are quite alive right now.  Once you can see the connection between Mary Lennox’s parents dying of cholera in India at the beginning of The Secret Garden and the present version of American exceptionalism that permits drone strikes that kill children in Pakistan, it’s harder to take pleasure in the things we once did.  And by we, I mean I, right?  So here I was, invited to write steampunk.  To re-engage with the colonialist pleasures of my childhood but without the strictures of history.

Balfour & Meriwether in The Adventure of The Emperor’s Vengeance probably owes as much to Buckeroo Banzai as it does to Sherlock Holmes.  I wrote the story as if it were part of some much larger body of work telling the adventures of secret operatives of the crown in the 1870s and 1880s — so roughly contemporaneous with Sherlock.  I adopted the kind of old fashioned narrator’s voice that I remembered from reading Doyle, and I tried to tell a rollicking adventure story set there.  I addressed the anti-semitism of the time with, I hope, a light hand.  And — most important for me — I got to subvert the idea that our heroes were heroic.

It’s not obvious, I hope, in any of these stories that I’m questioning the nobility of my heroes.  I want them to read as light adventure, and I want to function as conceptual humor.  The second story — Balfour and Meriwether in The Vampire of Kabul — I tried to imply a backstory that Balfour and Meriwether almost entirely miss.  And if the reader misses it too, that’s cool.  The story still works.

Right now, my old friend and colleague at Snackreads has the first two stories available.  In not very long, the third Balfour and Meriwether story — Balfour and Meriwether in The Incident of the Harrowmoor Dogs — will be coming out as a chapbook from Subterranean Press (who are also the publishers of my only collection of short stories).  I don’t know whether there will be more after that, but there might.  And if there are, they will be the same basic joke told again: A bright, sweet, tart candy coating that tastes like what I loved in childhood around some little nugget of unease that leaves my adulthood just a touch more bitter. Because that’s what steampunk is to me.

7 Comments

If you’re hanging around Albuquerque this Saturday…

02.14.13
by Daniel Abraham

… I’ll be hanging out with Steve Gould — author of Jumper and Impulse, my endorsed nominee for SFWA president, and all around good guy — at Alamosa Books.

Steve Gould, an author and a gentleman.  Just don't ask him about the whole Mismeasure of Man thing.  that was someone else.

Steve Gould, an author and a gentleman. Just don’t ask him about the Panda’s Thumb thing. That was someone else.

The gig starts at 2 pm and lasts until we leave.  I’m not sure exactly what we’l be doing apart from signing books and being charming, but it’s a great little indie bookstore with a bent toward kid’s books that reminds my of a store called Trespasser’s Will that saved my life and sanity as a child.  Gwen, wherever you are, thanks for that.

Anyway, come by and say hello if you’re of a mind.

3 Comments

The Dragon’s Path in Taiwan

01.31.13
by Daniel Abraham

Woke up this morning to the following facebook post from Gray Tan: 

An image from the Taipei Book Fair. So how cool it that?

An image from the Taipei Book Fair. So how cool it that?

“THE DRAGON’S PATH goes on sale today in Taiwan. Here are photos of display at the Taipei Book Fair. Instant bestseller on Books.com, our biggest online bookseller, reach as high as #25 OVERALL!!”

I don’t know if that means Daniel Abraham is now officially an internationally bestselling author, or just that he’s feeling smug about things today, but Lord I am feeling smug about things today.

5 Comments

When We Were Heroes

01.16.13
by Daniel Abraham

When We Were Heroes art by the ohmigod inimitable John Picacio

When We Were Heroes art by the ohmigod inimitable John Picacio

My new story in the Wild Cards universe (starring my very own morally-fallen trust-fund anti-superhero Jonathan “Bugsy” Tipton-Clarke and Carrie Vaughn’s Curveball). Come for the superheroic antics, stay for the coffee-shop analysis of Peter Weiss’ Marat/Sade.

With thanks to George RR Martin and Melinda Snodgrass who edit the work in that project, John Picacio for the amazing art, and your friends and mine over ar Tor.com.

7 Comments

Two things you can look at, and a Star Wars update

01.14.13
by Ty Franck

Daniel and I were interviewed for the January issue of Locus.  If you don’t subscribe, y0u can still see some excerpts on their website.  We discuss our writing process and our love of lurid adventure tales.  If you want to know about those two things, you can give it a peek.

Also, you can listen to our voices as we talk about pretty much the same stuff on the Machine Readable podcast from Mile Hi Con.

Ground has been broken on the Star Wars novel.  An outline has been approved, and chapters are being typed.  Things I’ve learned so far:  It is important to know ahead of time how you will handle Chewie talking, the Star Wars universe has instantaneous communication and nearly instantaneous travel but space is STILL big enough to hide things, hyperspace is how you get away from badguys but jumping through hyperspace ain’t like dusting crops kid, and Leia is the brains of the operation.  If someone has a good idea, it’s Leia.  Han is always always always wrong when he makes a plan or predicts the future, but man does he improvise gracefully.  More robots.  Always more robots.

19 Comments

Five Things That Don’t Suck

01.11.13
by Daniel Abraham

So I’ve been thinking a lot about negativity online of late (and for “of late” read: Since I first got in IRC in 1987).  I thought it would be nice to mention a few things for which I can express my genuine and unadulterated appreciation.

1) Artemis Space Ship Bridge Simulator Continue reading ›

6 Comments

Work Process

12.13.12
by Ty Franck

Our good friend Max told me he was building a flow chart of the James Corey writing process.  Now, Max is a smart guy, and a guy with significant technical skills, so I was thinking this could get pretty complicated.  Two writers, working from outline with multiple editing passes?  That could be tough to flowchart out.

The one Max sent to me is a bit simplified, and I’m not sure how often we actually make the right choice on the decision tree, but it’s damned close to what we’re trying to do.

Thanks Max!

Flow chart after the fold:

Continue reading ›

9 Comments